Hahnemann wrote the book on smørbrød

Open Sandwiches delivers an open-face sandwich recipe for any occassion

Daytona Strong
Taste of Norway Editor

Trine Hh

Book cover: Open Sandwiches by Trine Hahnemann

I’ll take a smørbrød over a typical two-slice sandwich any day. In the best Scandinavian open sandwiches, the bread serves mostly as a vehicle for a wealth of toppings, a satisfying meal that nourishes and delights. For anyone who shares this love, Danish chef and food writer Trine Hahnemann recently published a book dedicated to the topic.

Open Sandwiches: 70 smørrebrød ideas for morning, noon and night (Quadrille Publishing, 2018, with photography by Columbus Leth) celebrates this traditional Scandinavian meal with a array of enticing recipes that include the simpler madder, and the fancier smørbrød. (Note: I’m using the Norwegian spelling here, while in the book you’ll see the Danish smørrebrød.)

Hahnemann—a Danish chef and food writer—shares an interesting history of the origins of these open sandwiches as well as the unwritten rules of building a proper smørbrød; her guidelines on the latter alone would be enough to equip anyone to create their own appetizing and inventive sandwich.

Hahnemann is beloved for her many books, including Scandinavian Comfort Food (read my interview with her about that book, along with sample recipes, at www.norwegianamerican.com/featured/redefining-comfort-food-celebrating-hygge), Scandinavian Baking, The Scandinavian Cookbook, and Scandinavian Christmas.

As for the book itself, she keeps the structure simple with three chapters: Everyday—those madder that make a quick meal or matpakk, Special—the true smørbrød, and Basics—recipes for some of the ingredients she uses, including a few types of bread, flavored mayonnaises, compotes and spreads, pickles and other condiments, and more.

The classics—smoked salmon, pickled herring, or roast beef, for example—are classics for a reason. They’re elegant and balanced. And Hahnemann’s book honors these, while also exploring fresh ways of building a sandwich. The tomato, aubergine mayonnaise, and Parma ham on rye looks fresh and flavorful—an example of her everyday madder. Among the more elaborate smørbrød, breaded cod with fennel on rye, prawns on caraway-spiced sourdough, and Christmas pork with red cabbage on rye showcase the variety of recipes included in the book.

Whether you’re looking for a quick no-cook meal to spice up your lunch or something exciting to serve guests, Open Sandwiches is sure to inspire.

Cod and Potatoes

Trine Hahnemann

Cod & Potatoes

After cooking dinner, I often have a few leftovers; not enough for dinner the next day, but just enough for my lunch. This is not a classic, but one of my own ways of using fish and potatoes, inspired by brandade.
10 ½ oz. cod fillet
sea salt flakes & freshly ground black pepper
3 medium-sized cold, boiled potatoes
2 tbsps. olive oil
½ tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
4 slices rye bread
4 tbsps. finely chopped radishes
4 tbsps. finely chopped chives

Preheat the oven to 350ºF.

Place the cod in an ovenproof dish, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and bake for 10 minutes. Cool down and carefully remove any bones you find.

Place the cod, potatoes, olive oil, and nutmeg in a mixing bowl. Mash the cod mixture with a fork and mix it well together. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Place the rye bread slices on a work top. Divide the cod and potato mix on each slice of bread, and place radishes and chives on top. Sprinkle with pepper.

Serves 4.

Rullepølse (Rolled Pork) and Cornichons

Trine Hahnemann

Rullepølse and Cornichons

Rullepølse is a Danish classic that can be made with pork, lamb or veal. It’s made over a few days, then you can cut it into smaller pieces and freeze it. This is my grandmother’s recipe. Of course the recipe makes more than you need for 4 sandwiches. I make it, then cut it up into smaller pieces and freeze it. It takes a bit of time to do, but it is not difficult and it is really tasty.

Rullepølse brine:
5 ½ oz. salt
6 tbsps. granulated sugar
2 bay leaves
small bunch thyme
1 tbsp. black peppercorns
5 cloves
1 onion, halved

1 whole boned pork belly
¼ cup coarse sea salt
3 tbsps. freshly ground black pepper
1 ½ tsps. ground allspice
6 gelatine leaves

4 slices of rye bread
salted butter
8 slices of Rullepølse
4 tsps. Dijon mustard
8 cornichons
4 tbsps. capers
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
4 tbsps. chopped dill
freshly ground black pepper


Place all the ingredients for the brine in a saucepan with 4 ¼ cups water and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar and salt. Leave to cool.

Trim the meat, removing most of the fat. Sprinkle with the salt and spices. Soak the gelatine leaves in cold water for 5 to 10 minutes, then squeeze out the excess water, and place the leaves on the flesh side of the meat to cover. Roll the meat very tightly lengthways, fat side out, then tie it with kitchen string at 1-in. intervals. Place the meat in the cold brine and leave for 48 hours in a cool place.

Put the Rullepølse in a saucepan, cover with fresh water, and bring to a boil. Let it simmer for about 1 hour. It is ready when it feels tender when pierced with a carving fork. Remove from the saucepan and, while it’s still warm, place it in a loaf tin. Put another loaf tin on top and weight it down with something heavy, to press. Chill for 24 hours. Slice thinly to serve.


Place the rye bread slices on a work top and spread the butter evenly on each slice.

Place 2 slices of Rullepølse on each slice of bread. Then spread 1 tsp of Dijon mustard on each open sandwich, and top with cornichons, capers, onion slices, and dill. Sprinkle with pepper. Serves 4.

Banana, Strawberry, Raspberry, and Chocolate

Trine Hahnemann

Banana, Strawberry, Raspberry, and Chocolate

I know this will be a surprise for many people: smørbrød with sweet and very simple toppings; rye bread with banana is very common. Less surprisingly, they are most children’s favorites. However, my very grown-up husband often eats them, and still with great joy. He especially enjoys påleggsjokolade (chocolate topping) if it is homemade, though it can be bought everywhere in Denmark, in dark- and milk-chocolate varieties. Here, the butter is even more important than usual, because it binds together the topping and the rye bread.

8 slices rye bread
salted butter
1 cup strawberries
2 bananas
¾ cup raspberries
paper-thin chocolate pieces

paper-thin chocolate pieces:
10 ½ oz. dark (bittersweet) chocolate, 60% cocoa solids

paper-thin chocolate pieces:

Finely chop the chocolate and melt two-thirds of it in a heatproof bowl suspended over simmering water (make sure the bowl does not touch the water), or a bain-marie. When it has melted and reached a temperature of 122ºF, add the rest of the chopped chocolate. Mix well until all the chocolate has melted. Gently heat all the chocolate in the bain-marie until it reaches a temperature of 88ºF. Now the chocolate is ready to use.

Spread out the melted chocolate on a piece of baking parchment. Using a sharp knife, cut a pattern of pieces measuring about 2 ¾ x 2 in. through the still-melted chocolate. Leave to cool and set before separating into pieces.


Place the rye bread slices on a work top and spread the butter evenly on each slice.

Rinse and hull the strawberries and cut each in half or in quarters. Slice the bananas. Divide the strawberries, bananas, raspberries, and chocolate pieces between the rye bread slices and serve.

Serves 2 to 4.

Photos: Leth Columbus
All recipes in this spread are excerpted with permission from Open Sandwiches by Trine Hahnemann, published by Quadrille May 2018, RRP $19.99 hardcover.

Daytona Strong is The Norwegian American’s Taste of Norway Editor. She writes about her family’s Norwegian heritage through the lens of food at her Scandinavian food blog, www.outside-oslo.com. Find her on Facebook  (www.facebook.com/OutsideOslo), Twitter (@daytonastrong), Pinterest (@daytonastrong), and Instagram (@daytonastrong).

This article originally appeared in the January 25, 2019, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.

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Daytona Strong

Daytona Strong was formerly the editor of the Taste of Norway for The Norwegian American. She writes about her family’s Norwegian heritage through the lens of food at her Scandinavian food blog, www.outside-oslo.com. Find her on Facebook (www.facebook.com/DaytonaStrongAuthor), Twitter (@daytonastrong), Pinterest (@daytonastrong), and Instagram (@daytonastrong).